Interview: Chris Fehn of Slipknot on South Africa, Vinyl, and Kids.

Interview: Chris Fehn of Slipknot on South Africa, Vinyl, and Kids.

MR: Hi Chris, thanks for taking the time to chat to us here at MusicReview.co.za, we greatly appreciate it!

CF: No problem! It’s my pleasure!

MR: You latest album, “the Gray Chapter” was released a little over a month ago. Have you, as a band, been happy with the response to the album so far?

CF: More than happy! It went to number one, which to us is even bigger than a Grammy! It shows us that our fans are still out there, and they are still buying our records! It shows a lot of loyalty, and a lot of patience. We love our fans for it!

MR: If you were to pick, what would be your personal favourite track off of the latest album?

CF: Personally, I like “The Devil In I”.

MR: What’s the direction would you like to see the band move now that they’ve completed a more mature, memoir-type album? Would you want to see more experimental stuff or a return to the Slipknot of Iowa?

CF: Well, we never have a plan. We never decide that each record will sound a particular way. We just write as a band. We contribute to everything that comes out of the writing sessions. We never go in with a particular thought process, we just pick what we feel is best once the writing and recording is over – then those tracks make the record.

MR: How much of a say do you guys have in picking the album cover? Do you get presented with a whole bunch of options and say, “that’s the one” or do you have an idea from the start?

CF: Clown does all the artwork, so he comes up with a lot of ideas. So that’s all his domain.

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MR: You guys have just finished up Knotfest, which looked like a huge success. How did the fans react to the new material, live? Any chance of bringing the show down to South Africa?

CF: The reaction was amazing! The record came out, and it seemed like most of the kids knew the words only a day later. It was crazy! The response to the new songs was fantastic.

We’d love to play South Africa. We’ll play anywhere, anytime!

MR: Do you and Clown write the percussive parts together and do you write to the drum grooves only, or is it only added in at the end?

CF: It’s basically added at the end. Once the structure of the song has been established, we get to work. There are a lot of places in the songs where you don’t want to step over things. You don’t want to step over Corey; you have to work with the main drums. So pretty much at the end.

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MR: Who do you think, in your opinion, are the upcoming bands to look out for in 2015?

CF: Slipknot!

MR: What is the biggest misconception people have about you?

CF: Good question! Probably that I am satanic or evil, when I’m not. We all have family and friends. It may look that may, and the intensity may sometimes be that way. But most of us aren’t that intense off stage either.

MR: You mention family, and you welcomed your son into the world in 2012. How do you plan to handle the music you child will explore, especially since metal is often very out there, and a lot to absorb?

CF: Well, I have always thought that if you hide something from a child they only want it more. So we have a very open household in terms of music. It also depends on his path. When I was younger, my parents didn’t want me listening to some of the records that came out back in the day. Once they saw that there still was no controlling it, they pretty much said, “Fine, go ahead and listen to Mӧtley Crϋe.”
Even watching MTV used to be a big deal to my mom. She would tell me that, one day, I would turn out like one of the musicians I kept watching. Turns out she was right!

She loves it now though. My mom is an amazing musician, so she understands. She even comes to our shows.

MR: You’re a keen golfer and have just released your own art pieces. What other hobbies do you have?

CF: I like video games! I also like to collect baseball and football cards. Whenever we’re on the road, we get to hit the card shops and add to our collections. I love fishing and hunting. All of it keeps me busy when we’re on and off the road.

Slipknot

MR: Speaking of collections, there has been a massive revival in the production and collection of vinyl. What is your opinion on the resurgence of this?

CF: I grew upon vinyl. I love just holding an album. Unfortunately, I don’t have a record player anymore, though I still have all of my old records. I think this resurgence is cool. There is nothing like watching the record spin. The whole experience with records is just great – opening them up; handling all the sleeves inside. I enjoyed having to take care of the vinyl; I think it brings you closer to the music when you have to physically take care of it. Downloading a record these days is just indestructible – you lose the routine.

MR: When your parents tell acquaintances about you, what is your ‘job description’ according to them?

CF: They’re probably more open about my job than they should be, actually. It’s pretty neat for them. They’re really proud of me since not a lot of things come out of Iowa. If it does come up in conversation, my parents will tell them who I am and what I do.

MR: How does it feel to know that some of your fans weren’t even alive when this band started?

CF: It’s crazy! It makes me happy that we’ve been together, and able to stay together, for this long. To have other kids able to grow up with our music… that’s incredible. It’s really cool that we’re still going, and still attracting younger fans. It also reminds me how old I am.

MR: As a band, do you guys feel differently towards crowd interaction and mosh pits, especially after the whole incident of Randy Blythe’s arrest?

CF: Yeah, that was a very sad situation. I’m friends with Randy, and it was an unfortunate event that happened. I know that he’s not that type of person at all – he would never hurt anybody. I think, especially in America, moshing has turned into a form of bullying. The big guy stands in the middle and just trucks any small kid that comes near him. They don’t mosh properly anymore. It sucks because that’s not what it’s about. Those guys need to be kicked out. A proper mosh pit is a great way to be as a group and dance, and just do your thing.

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MR: Is there a time when Slipknot will call it a day? Or do you feel that this band still has a long road ahead of it?

CF: We have a long road ahead of us. We’re in a better place than we’ve ever been before. We’re on tour right now, just focusing on day-to-day, not really on what’s happening even next week. It’s such a physical show – just staying healthy and staying alive is the most important thing right now. The future, for now, is just touring.

MR: As a band, you guys have written lyrics that have touched countless lives. Do you ever look at the fans in the crowd and just wonder what they are going through, and how your music impacts them?

CF: Yeah, totally. To me, personally… I was that kid. I know what they’re going through. I know what it means to them, so I try to give as much love as possible. I try to look them in the eye, which isn’t always possible with all the headbanging, but I try. I know that kid, because I was that kid. I completely appreciate everything about it.

MR: Finally, which piece of music memorabilia means the most to you?

CF: I’ve got one of Bill Ward’s drum-heads signed personally. It was from his drum kit. That’s probably the best piece that I have. I’ve got it hanging up in my house.

MR: Thank you for your time, Chris. It’s been a pleasure to speak to you. We hope to see you touring South Africa in the future!

CF: No problem!

Words: Wayde Flowerday & Jina Min

Written by Wayde Flowerday

Wayde is a student at the University of Witwatersrand, doing his Masters in Economic Science. When not hitting the books he can be found at live shows; drinking energy drinks and being a potential liability. Find him at @WTF__FTW